Battle tested

September 11, 2017

FORGED IN FIRE

  “Saul armed David with his armor…. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not tested them” (1 Sam. 17:38, 39).

  Years of preparation are worth a moment of truth! Rest assured that once we are developed and trained by the Holy Spirit, the work whereunto He has called us will be ready and waiting (Acts 13:2). “Our Lord must have an instrument which He has formed in the fire and to which He has given peculiar knowledge of Himself.”

  “The greater the knowledge committed to a servant, the more necessary and important it is that he should be much alone with God about it, in order that he may realize the nature and effect of it on himself before he undertakes to make it known to others.

  “It rebukes the haste and readiness with which many now enter the ministry, attempting to impress others with a measure of the truth which they have not proved for themselves. Surely the servant should ever be able to say: ‘I believed, and therefore have I spoken’ (2 Cor. 4:13). It is better to lose time as to work in preparation for service than to lose time in repairing one’s mistakes in undertaking a work for which one is not yet qualified.”

  “A servant’s discipline must always be in advance of the service prepared for him. He cannot lead beyond the point to which he himself has been led. But when the depth and reality of the truth has been established in his own soul, he is made the channel of it.”

I have found that many a thing which I had presented in an extreme way because I was sure of it, I put forth in a simpler and a more real way when I had touched it in my own experience.

  “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you” (1 John 1:3).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

STUMBLE AND FALL

September 9, 2017

Looking forward, thinking backward?

“Has the Lord not taken the lead?”

Judges 4:14

I look back with a great deal of regret over wasted years and opportunities in my life. But Paul says that the only way to move forward is to put the past behind and focus on what is ahead: “Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13b-14). Forgetting the past means that I accept God’s forgiveness and grace; however, it does not that I overlook the lessons learned from those years. I hope to make the most of every opportunity God gives me now because of my regret over those missed in the past.

As you think through those in your own life, don’t wallow in them with guilt or regret but use them as bridges to the future where you take advantage of the circumstances into which God puts you.

This last week I was struck by how many times my mind wandered to the past. Have you ever done that? Why did this happen or that happen to me? Why didn’t I do better with that opportunity? Why didn’t I react differently to that person? I realized how easy it is to get stuck in that negative thinking. The worst part is it keeps you distracted and looking backwards.

When we are hurt or upset is our natural reaction to forgive and move forward?  Or is it our tendency to go back over the hurt? Do we accept the apology or do we dwell on the hurt and replay the event over and over? Do we keep going back to it? Or do we move forward?

When we keep looking backwards, we lose our ability to focus on what is right in front of us. It steals our ability to heal.  When we stay in the past and continue feasting on past hurt we perpetuate a cycle of unforgiveness and bitterness –and we are going to fall down.

By going over the injustice or the hurt we relive it over and over and that keeps us locked in a cycle of pain. How can we see what is ahead of us if we don’t ever face the right direction?

The Bible says in Psalm 103:12 (NIV) as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

What an example of forgiveness Christ is. There are instances that even though forgiveness is given there are consequences and even  serious punishment. In those extreme cases granting forgiveness can be very difficult. But by forgiving we are freeing ourselves and we are not excusing the hurt nor any injustice done.

The Bible says, Press on towards the prize. In Philippians 3:14 it says, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. I think that is an amazing promise to share with our children.

“Face forward child and look at the path in front of you because, God has called you! What is the reward? Well the reward is a life in him for all of eternity! Don’t let the pains of the past pull you down. Let those go so you can focus on all that God has for you.”

In Jeremiah 29:11 he tells us, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God tells us he has a plan for us. He tells us he has a future and a hope. He doesn’t tell us that he has a past. If we are striving towards a goal then we stay focused on the path ahead. But if we are looking backwards,  we can wander off course and can and often do fall down.

What do you do if your child is weighted down with unforgiveness? Or maybe they are stuck and angry because someone has been mean to them.

Teach them the joy and freedom of granting forgiveness. It will be a lesson that they will use the rest of their lives.

As I’ve said before I’m not a fan of the new “shortened” bible. Every word has some importance. Let me give you an example, ‘Ai’ or ‘Bethel’ Jacob is told to look toward Bethel, not Ai, why, several reasons, but do you know that the word Ai means rubble and Bethel means ‘house of God’ so we have a choice, we can look back at the rubble of our past or look forward to the promise.

“Stumble & Fall”

I heard that it was a really big deal

But then I found out it was just nothing at all

You always say it’s such a big deal

But we both know that that’s nothing at all

And I get over the breaks

And I, I stumble and fall

And I get over the breaks

And sometimes stumble and fall

You just wont admit that it’s all in your hands

So I have to try so hard to make you understand

But all you can say is “It’s just part of the deal”

And I never asked you to understand

How I keep myself to myself in the crush of the crowd

But all you can say is

“Who cares? It’s part of the deal”

And I get over the breaks

And I, I stumble and fall

And I get over the breaks

And sometimes stumble and fall

Well I, I get over the breaks

And I stumble and fall

And I get over the breaks

And sometimes stumble and fall

Yes I fall

Yes I fall

I stumble and fall (by Razorlight)

Keep praying for Calvin, they may have to do a series of eye surgeries.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

We must learn to give thanks to God in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17,18). God is not asking you to be thankful, but to give thanks. There’s a difference between feeling thankful and giving thanks. The first involves trusting our feelings, the latter involves trusting God. While our feelings will mislead us, God will not (Proverbs 3:5,6)

.

As we mature spiritually (1) we learn to give thanks to God for all circumstances (Ephesians 5:20). This is because we understand that everything (including bad things) that have come our way can be caused to make us more like Jesus Christ as we turn to God our Father in childlike FAITH (1) trusting Him (Romans 8:28,29).

Note those two previous verses are not saying that God is causing all things to make us happy! But rather all things can be used to fulfill God’s “purpose” of making us Christ-like as we trust Him in “loving” childlike faith. We can demonstrate this trust to God by thanking Him – by faith – that what He has promised is as good as done (Colossians 3:17. Colossians 4:2).

 

 

Sometimes we have to trust God through difficult circumstances, recognizing that He is sovereign and in control. Even if we don’t immediately see the fulfillment of His promise it does not mean we will not see it fulfilled eventually (Philippians 4:6,7. 2 Peter 3:9. Hebrews 11:13).

 

 

Realize, you become like what you think about in your spiritual heart for good or for bad (Proverbs 23:7. Ephesians 5:1-4. Philippians 4:8). If we continually are thankful to God for what He has done, is doing and will do in our lives our faith will be strengthened (Romans 4:16-20).

 

 

When we live a lifestyle of thanksgiving we communicate to God that we appreciate what we have already been given – no matter how small – causing God to desire to give us more than we can ask or think (Psalms 37:3-5. Proverbs 22:11. Luke 17:12-19. Ephesians 3:20). Furthermore, if you continually give thanks to God for everything you will live a life filled with the contentment that only God gives (Isaiah 26:3. Philippians 4:11-13).

 

 

We initially were saved by faith that received the grace of God (i.e., unearned favor Ephesians 2:8,9) and we are to live the rest of our Christian lives in this manner (Colossians 2:6,7). That is, living a life of faith receiving grace which is best demonstrated by a thankful heart! (Psalms 100:4) . While it is easier to thank God when things are going well; however,  when they are not we have a unique opportunity to offer up the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). That is, thanking God when every one of your emotions wants to have a “pity party” is costly – hence the “sacrifice”.

 

 

Having an attitude of gratitude will keep our spiritual hearts tender towards God (Psalms 107:1,2,43).  Consequently, we will have a heart through which God’s grace can pour to meet the needs of others and ourselves.  Remember, when the trials come our way we can either get bitter or get better.  The stones in our path can be either our stepping stone or tombstone.  Therefore, let us stop whining and start winning! (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

Some suggestions for living a life of thankfulness to God:

  • Be humble and focused on God (Jonah 2:8,9)

  • Be thankful for everyday blessings (Matthew 5:43-48)

  • Spend time in the Word of God to learn His promises and how He plans to fulfill them in your life daily (2 Peter 1:3,4)

  • Always thank God in the midst of adversity and trials (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

  • Record blessings in your Bible or a journal and continually reference them when you encounter difficulty (Malachi 3:16)

  • Express your gratitude publicly (Matthew 10:32,33)

  • Continue God’s cycle of thanksgiving by blessing others in the Spirit of Christ 2 Corinthians 9:10,11

Remember Tim S in prayer, he has struggled for over 40 years with grief over a lifestyle of drugs, even though he has been clean all these years he wonders about his sanity in light of the heavy drug use.

Robin M, almost the same request, except one difference, where Tim remembers all the things he did, Robing has lost 20 years of memories including friends and even family members, although functional, she has burnt out a huge chunk of her brain (her words)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

LOOK UP

September 3, 2017

crown of thorns

Look Up!

  “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

  Our Father allows the believer to struggle with self, not for victory, but for defeat. Then the “wretched man” learns to rest in the Victor.

Once you have begun the Christian walk, and know the blessedness of it, you are not trying to correct yourself, for you know that all has been removed from the eye of God; and you insist on the fact that self has been to the Cross, and that Christ is your life. The old man was crucified, and you cannot reform him; all attempts of amiable people to reform him are only denying the fact that he has been dealt with in judgment. The responsible (law) man is not before God now. It is now the day of grace. Everyone who receives His grace is set free from the domination of the old man. The appeal to the believer now is not to do, but to look.

  “The believer is never told to ‘overcome sin,’ but to reckon, on the ground of his death with Christ, that he has died to it. On the basis of death, he is told not to ‘let’ sin reign in his life. It is to be dealt with by an attitude of death, not by ‘overcoming.’ The believer therefore is not to be spending his whole life in getting victory over sin, but understanding his position as having died unto sin.”

If you are struggling with sin, you are not ‘reckoning’ or looking at the cross, just as you say, “I’m born again and Jesus is my Savior” you say the same thing to sin, “I’ve been crucified with Christ.”

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BELIEVE ANY SERMON OR BOOK THAT TELLS THE STORY OF THE WHITE DOG AND THE BLACK DOG. AND THEY FIGHT, AND THE ONE THAT IS FEED THE BEST, WINS

IN THE GOSPEL, BOTH DOGS ARE DEAD. DON’T BELIEVE IT’S ALL LAID UPON YOUR SHOULDER AND YOU ARE MASTER OF YOUR FATE, CAPTAIN OF YOUR DESTINY. YOU CAN DO NOTHING BUT GAZE UPON THE CROSS.

It took faith to be saved, it takes faith to be in the right place.

Faith to believe “We are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Be safe, be blessed, believe. Be changed.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

THE STRUGGLING PARENT

September 1, 2017

WHY DID YOU BECOME A PARENT?

One of the hardest things in the world as a counselor is to sit there in a session and listen to two stupid people, so self-absorbed, so selfish, immature and worst of all totally unteachable. Which in my book makes them fools. But because of tradition and peer pressure (it never goes away) and parental badgering, they decide to become parents.

Yet the child has no real room in their world. I’m honestly beginning to think that a 13 year old pregnant girl who at least has some genuine desire to learn to be a parent is immensely better than the late 30 something that after 8-10 years of marriage (that sucks) gets it into their pea brain that a child is either timely, a fashion statement, or an attempt to make their marriage better.

Holy crap, sell the kid, they’ll have a better chance than the nanny child who will probably turn into Ted Bundy and kill their parents in bed. I’m not blaming the kid, I blame the totally selfish parents that have a kid just because their biological clock was ticking or it proves they are really a couple.

So their 2 year gets woke up at 530am, and is bundled off to the day care by 630am. The kid stays there till closing time 630pm not because the parents are working. No because neither parent wants to be alone with the kid. The mom is off work by 2pm, she goes shopping, or goes home and drinks a bottle of wine and then tells the husband who still working “she is to sick to pick up the kid.” Then on Saturday the call the nanny or drop the kid off at grandma’s. because they need couple time.

After they drop the kid off Saturday with grandma, they go out to breakfast in their separate cars because after breakfast they both have “their” errands to run.

You guessed it, the kid is at grandma’s till 8 pm where they feed the kid a meal he doesn’t need in the back seat of the car. The 2 year old is addicted to coca cola and has literally lost all his baby teeth due to cavities. After a huge temper tantrum, the kid gets put to bed and the parents drink themselves silly, have a fight and one sleeps on the couch.

It’s now Sunday and they come to church because that too is a ritual.

And then schedule marriage counseling to save their marriage.

And so how was your day?

So the moral of the story follows…

Just because a person becomes a parent doesn’t mean that he or she knows how to act like one. This is no more true than when kids become teens. You’ve probably seen it: a nervous parent groveling before a surly teen or trying to be a “buddy” rather than a parent. It makes one wonder: why do some parents feel so guilty about parenting with authority?

Unfortunately this is more than just an occasional outbreak of bad behavior—it’s an epidemic with at least one root cause: “I can’t be too hard on him. After all, I made lots of mistakes growing up and I don’t want to be a hypocrite!”

To parent well, we’ve got to swallow our feelings of guilt and hypocrisy and learn to speak openly and honestly about what is most important in life.

The Hypocrite-phobic Parent

If you have children still at home, chances are you’re a member of “Generation X.” You grew up with the ever-present mantra of “free sex, free drugs, no-absolute-truth.” I would say that at least half of the parents I visit with at homeschool conventions became interested in homeschooling because they wanted to protect their kids from the mistakes they themselves made growing up.

Yet when faced with dishonor and bad choices, these parents freeze. They know that once their kids get to be 8 or so, the hard questions will start coming: “Mom, did you ever lie to your parents? Dad, did you ever do something your parents had forbidden?” Or more serious, “Did you have sex outside of marriage? Did you ever abuse drugs or alcohol?”

Sadly, many parents would rather abdicate parenting all together than confront their children’s bad choices and risk the “hypocrite” charge. Even though parents know how awful today’s television programming is, for example, Mark Bauerlein in The Dumbest Generation points out that more than 80% of parents set no restrictions at all on their children’s television viewing.

Or more sobering, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released a study in late 2006 showing that 57% of parents admit to “some degree of difficulty” in engaging teens in meaningful discussions about their friends, how they dress, and tough subjects like drug use.

If you feel disqualified to parent authoritatively because your own life was marred by self-centeredness, premarital sexuality, drug and alcohol abuse or divorce, here’s some good news: There are at least three ways to parent well in spite of having a checkered past. Let’s consider each in turn.

The Example of David: Seek Repentance

The first step to hypocrisy-free parenting is to do what great men and women have done for millennia: humble yourself before God and express sorrow for what you did. Consider the example of King David, starting with this passage written by his son, Solomon:

Listen, my sons, to a father’s discipline, and pay attention so that you may gain understanding, for I am giving you good instruction. Don’t abandon my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender and precious to my mother, he taught me and said: ‘Your heart must hold on to my words. Keep my commands and live.’ Proverbs 4:1-4

It seems like a fairly standard bit of parenting advice until one considers who Solomon’s father was—King David! And who was Solomon’s mother? Bathsheba! How did David and Bathsheba come to be married? David committed adultery with Bathsheba (Solomon’s mother) and even had Bathsheba’s innocent, honorable husband killed to cover up his sin.

If living a blameless life was the criterion for giving wise counsel, David would certainly have been disqualified. Yet he did not use his sin as an excuse to avoid giving wise counsel to his son. Rather than abandon his parenting responsibility, David made a confession, asking to be made clean and steadfast so that he could use his life as an example to those who had gone astray:

God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to you. Psalm 51:10-13

If you believe your past disqualifies you from wisely guiding your children, pray Psalm 51, as David did, asking God to make you steadfast in the truth so that you can impart wisdom to the next generation.

When I was just out of the military my father (just out of prison the first time) shared with me some of the poor choices he made when younger, and how ashamed he was of what he had done. As he shared, he wept. I found myself feeling uncomfortable, but moved to take my own choices more seriously.

What to Say in the Hard Conversations

The second step in hypocrisy-free parenting is brace yourself for the inevitable difficult conversations. Think now about what you’ll say then, so you won’t be caught unprepared. For example:

“I wish I could parent you based on having lived a perfect life, but that won’t be the case. I’ve made many tragic errors that have hurt a lot of people and brought dishonor to God.”

“Because of my past I must rely completely on God’s grace and His offer of forgiveness.”

“It’s embarrassing to have to admit my sins, but I need for you to know that my counsel to you is based on the wisdom God has revealed, not on my having lived a blameless life.”

“My point in telling you this is not to make excuses for myself or to give you an excuse for acting like I did, but to display the tragic effects of sin and the magnitude of God’s grace.”

“I understand if you’re thinking, ‘Why should I listen to you?’ I don’t blame you and I’m sorry that my example has led you to think that way. What I’m asking you to do, though, is not to follow my example but to learn from my mistakes and do what God has revealed is right.”

Ultimately our children are responsible for their own lives and choices. Statements like these aren’t guaranteed to prevent your children from making poor choices, but they will help prevent them from using your life experience as an excuse for their wrong-doing.

Taking Advantage of the Mentoring Moments

The third step in hypocrisy-free parenting is to exert an influence even when your son or daughter is being resistant.

. Here are 10 ideas of things you can do to create conversational space, even when it’s awkward.

  1. You can listen: “Tell me about what’s important to you…”

  1. You can give a blessing: “Has anyone ever told you that you have the gift of ___?”

  1. You can affirm: “Here’s something about you that makes a great deal of difference to me…”

  1. You can be transparent: “I’ve made mistakes in my life and I’d hate to see you go down that same path…”

  1. You can pray: “I’m not sure what to do either. Can I pray with you about it?”

  1. You can encourage: “I know it’s tough but I know you can do it.”

  1. You can teach: “May I share with you a Scripture verse that has been important to me?”

  1. You can admonish: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you?”

  1. You can love: “No matter what, I’ll be here.”

  1. Failing all else, you can just walk alongside: “Let’s go together.”

Tough conversations will come, but that doesn’t mean we must forfeit our responsibilities as parents. As the old saying goes, “You can’t have a new beginning, but you can start today to produce a new ending.”

Please make an effort to be a godly parent, realize you will stand before God and give an account of your life.

Don’t let guilt turn you into a helpless, non active parent or spouse.

It’s never to late to start.

Also pray that God brings people into your life and your child’s life that will listen and share without causing more guilt.

And if your closet is bigger than your garage buy birth control.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

DO NO THING

August 30, 2017

SELF HELP IS NO HELP

  “If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances?” (Col. 2:20, R.V.).

  When it comes to spiritual growth and walk, any help from ourselves is a hindrance to us. The source is wrong. On the death side, we are to receive deliverance from sin’s power through the Spirit from the Cross; on the life side, we are to receive growth through the Spirit from the Lord Jesus. It is a matter of receiving, not contributing. We are branches, not vines.

The old elementary legal rudiments of a legal age are for those ‘living in the world’ (having an earthly temple and worship). Believers are seated in the heavenlies in Christ, and are spiritual people with a sanctuary in Heaven. ‘Touch not,’ ‘taste not,’ ‘handle not’; such commandments of men have no value. They perish with the using.

‘Voluntary humility,’ ‘neglecting of the body,’ ‘fasting,’ etc., have a show of wisdom. They gratify religious pride and self-righteousness, they ‘puff up the fleshly mind,’ but they are ‘not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.’ The flesh is not subdued by fasting, nor pride by whipping, nor worldliness by neglect of the body. These are of ‘no avail’ though men glory in them. Only the Holy Spirit brings one into liberty—and that via the Cross. ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death’ (Rom. 8:2).

  “Stand fast, then, in the freedom which Christ has given us, and turn not back again to entangle yourselves in the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).

The hardest thing to do is do nothing, there is no ‘pulling yourself up by the bootstrap’ nor “putting your nose to the grindstone” or giving it all you’ve got. As our salvation is by faith so is our liberty.

Give yourself a rest.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Encouraging God

August 28, 2017

Perseverance seems to be an outdated concept in our day of instant everything. If it doesn’t come easy, why pursue it? If it’s hard or requires endurance, maybe it isn’t your thing.

It’s easy to start a new diet. It’s tough to stick to it when you crave that cinnamon roll. It’s easy to start a new exercise program. It’s tough to persevere when your aching muscles scream, “No more!” It’s easy to get married. It’s tough to hang in there and work through problems over a lifetime. It’s easy to begin a new ministry in the local church. It’s tough to keep on when problems arise or when the results don’t match your initial expectations.

That describes the people in Haggai’s day, just shy of a month after they had obeyed his first message and resumed work on rebuilding the temple. The foundation had been laid about 15 years before, but the project had been set on the shelf. But now, in response to Haggai’s word from the Lord, the leaders and people had begun to rebuild on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius (Sept. 21, 520 B.C.; 1:15). The seventh month in Israel began with the Feast of Trumpets on the first day, followed by the Day of Atonement on the tenth day. Then the Feast of Tabernacles went from the 15th to the 21st. On the last day of that feast (Oct. 17th), Haggai delivered his second message to the people (2:1-9). It is a message of God’s encouragement to discouraged workers. We learn that …

God encourages His discouraged servants to persevere in His work.

These verses teach us three things about persevering by turning our discouragement in serving the Lord into encouragement:

  1. God understands and cares about the discouragement we face in serving Him (Haggai 2:1-3).

The Lord did not gloss over or ignore the reality of the situation. He knew what they were thinking and feeling, and He brings it up to show them that He understood and that He cared for them. If we do not keep in mind that in all our troubles the Lord understands and cares for us, we will easily become discouraged. The text and historical context reveal several potential sources of discouragement when we get involved in serving the Lord:

  1. THE LOSS OF INITIAL EXCITEMENT CAN DISCOURAGE US.

There is always a certain sense of excitement when you begin a new ministry or project. But the glow easily rubs off in the grind. There were probably piles of rubble that needed to be removed. Perhaps some of the workers had envisioned putting the finishing touches on some gold work or other craftsmanship, but they hadn’t thought about hauling rubble. Their initial enthusiasm was already wearing thin.

The summer after I graduated from seminary, I was involved with a group of men in starting a new church that was branching off of an existing church. We received some wise counsel from the elders of the mother church. They said, “What you’re doing now is new and exciting. But the time will come when the glamour wears off and then you’ll need to know that God has called you to this work and persevere in it.” The leaders did persevere, because last year I received an email from the pastor telling me that they were celebrating their 25th anniversary.

  1. DELAYS CAN DISCOURAGE US.

Work for the Lord seldom moves as quickly as we had hoped. Perhaps working around the numerous feasts and Sabbath days in the seventh month had dampened the initial enthusiasm because the work was going so slowly. It’s easy for that to happen in anything we do for the Lord, and the delays get us down.

  1. OUTSIDE OPPOSITION AND CRITICISM CAN DISCOURAGE US.

In verse 5, the Lord says, “Do not fear!” He would not say that unless they had a reason to be afraid. Probably the same men who had threatened them and lobbied against them at the Persian court 15 years before were at it again. Any time you attempt to do God’s work, Satan will stir up opposition. We’re in a battle with the forces of darkness that are opposed to the church of Jesus Christ. Expect opposition!

  1. INSIDE PESSIMISM, COMPARISONS, AND FAULTY EXPECTATIONS CAN DISCOURAGE US.

When I began in ministry, I naively thought that most of the opposition would come from outside the church. Boy, was I wrong! Most opposition comes from within, and it takes different forms.

One common form is pessimism. “We tried that before. It won’t work!” When they had laid the foundation years before, there was great joy mixed with weeping (Ezra 3:11-13). The young people who had not known the glory of the former temple were rejoicing. But the old-timers, who had seen Solomon’s Temple, wept at this new temple, because it just didn’t measure up. Although they would be in their seventies or older by now, a few were still around when the work got started again. Maybe they were saying, “God’s blessing just isn’t on this temple!” Pessimism!

A second form of inside opposition comes from those who drop little comparisons on you. The old-timers were saying, “You should have seen Solomon’s Temple. Now that was a temple! This new one is hardly worth calling a temple compared to the old one!” Sometimes people will say, “That church on the other side of town really has their act together!” (Implication: You don’t!) Or, “Have you ever heard Chuck Swindoll preach? He’s really good! You ought to listen to him.” Thanks for the encouragement!

And then there are those who have faulty expectations. This usually operates in conjunction with comparisons. “Where is all the gold? Solomon’s Temple was lined with gold. Why isn’t this one?” I’ve had people tell me about their former pastors who must never have slept and changed into their pastor uniforms in a phone booth! These pastors would visit everyone in the church, preach superb sermons (with great illustrations), attend all the youth activities, and always have time for drop ins. Besides that, they never neglected their families! Implication: “Why aren’t you like they are?”

  1. A WRONG VIEW OF SUCCESS CAN DISCOURAGE US.

Some view success externally rather than internally (or spiritually). “This temple isn’t as big as Solomon’s Temple was. This temple doesn’t have all the gold and fancy workmanship that Solomon’s Temple did.” But God says through Haggai, “I own all the gold and silver in the world, and I could cover this temple with gold if I wanted to. But I’m going to do something better. Instead of gold, I’m going to fill this temple with glory, the glory of My Messiah” (paraphrase of 2:7-9).

God doesn’t view things as we do. Just because one church isn’t as big or outwardly slick as another church doesn’t mean anything to God. A church may have a multi-million dollar facility, but if it doesn’t honor God’s Word or promote His glory among the nations, that facility is a big pile of wood, hay, and stubble! God is looking for the glory of Christ formed in the hearts of His people, not for the outward, superficial signs of success.

Another wrong view of success is the instant view as opposed to the eternal. None of the workers on this temple lived to see its glory exceed that of Solomon’s Temple. That didn’t happen until Messiah came into this temple over 500 years later, and even then many missed it! God says, “Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land” (2:6). While there may have been a partial fulfillment of that prophecy within a few years of Haggai’s day (in the overthrow of powerful kingdoms), the ultimate fulfillment is still future in our day! God will shake all the nations at the Second Coming of Christ, and they will bring the wealth of the nations to His temple in the Millennium.

If the people in Haggai’s day were viewing success from the short range, they would have been very discouraged. With God, a thousand years is as a day. True success will be measured in the light of eternity, not in our lifetimes. We need to keep this in mind as we labor for the Lord. The harvest is at the end of the age, not at the end of the meeting. God’s timing is not our timing.

Whatever our source of discouragement, God understands and He cares. But He doesn’t coddle us or let us stay there.

  1. God’s word to us when we discouraged in serving Him is to persevere (2:4a).

Three times the Lord repeats, “Be strong!” (“Take courage!”) And He tells them to work. Keep going! Persevere! There are two aspects to this kind of perseverance: an attitude and an action.

  1. PERSEVERANCE REQUIRES THE RIGHT ATTITUDE: BE STRONG!

The people had the wrong attitude. They were weak because they had gotten their focus off the Lord and onto the slow, disappointing progress on the temple. Maybe they were thinking, “This will never get done. We’re just wasting our time!”

Have you ever noticed how much your attitude affects your ability to persevere? If you’re motivated, you can stay up all night on some project. But if you get discouraged, you procrastinate and never get around to finishing it.

We hear about many pastors burning out and quitting the ministry. While in some cases the cause of burnout is not properly managing one’s schedule, often the real cause is an attitude of discouragement because of setbacks or disappointments. I recently read that 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression. Eighty percent of pastors and 84 percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their ministries. I think every pastor should feel unqualified (2 Cor. 2:16), but not discouraged. As Americans, we’re far too emotionally fragile. Someone offends us, so we get our feelings hurt and drop out of service. Someone doesn’t do what we had expected, so we quit. Someone criticizes what we’re doing, and we say, “I’m out of here!”

But God says, “Be strong!” We aren’t to be strong in our own strength, of course, but in God’s strength (2 Cor. 3:5). But, be strong! Have the attitude that hangs in there in spite of obstacles. The real question is not how do we see things, but how does God see things? If we have not factored God into the equation, we don’t see things in the right perspective.

Do you remember the story of the 12 spies who went into the land of Canaan? Ten of them came back focused on the giants in the land and said, “We’re like grasshoppers in their sight. We can’t conquer them!” But Joshua and Caleb came back and said, “Because God is with us and He has promised us that land, we will eat them for lunch!” (Num. 14:9, paraphrase). Be strong in attitude!

  1. PERSEVERANCE REQUIRES THE RIGHT ACTION: WORK!

The attitude provides the motivation, but motivation without work won’t get the temple built. Joshua and Caleb had the right attitude of trust in the Lord. But they still had to go into the land and fight the giants. Much of the Lord’s work is far more perspiration than inspiration! That is certainly true of my weekly sermon preparation. These messages don’t come floating down from the sky! I have to work hard to prepare them. Just because you’re gifted in whatever you do for the Lord does not mean that it just flows effortlessly. To persevere we must not only be strong; we also must work.

Thus God encourages us in our service for Him by showing that He understands what we’re feeling and He cares. His word to us is, “Be strong and work!” Finally,

  1. God assures us when we are discouraged in serving Him by His presence, His promise, and His prophecy (2:4b-9).

  1. GOD ASSURES US WHEN WE ARE DISCOURAGED IN SERVING HIM BY HIS PRESENCE (2:4B).

After telling Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people to be strong and to work, God adds, ‘“For I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” The Jews may have feared a hostile host against them, but God is the Lord of hosts, the Supreme Ruler over all the armies of heaven and earth. If the Lord of hosts is with us, who can defeat us? If we’re serving Him, then nothing can happen to us accidentally or without His express permission. The assurance of His presence should lift our discouragement and enable us to press on.

After many years of hardship and danger in the heart of Africa, David Livingstone received an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow. On that occasion, he said, “Would you like me to tell you what supported me through all the years of exile among people whose language I could not understand, and whose attitude toward me was always uncertain and often hostile? It was this: ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ On those words I staked everything, and they never failed.”

  1. GOD ASSURES US WHEN WE ARE DISCOURAGED IN SERVING HIM BY HIS PROMISE (2:5).

“Promise” (2:5) refers to the covenant God made with Israel when they came out of Egypt. He promises them now, as He had then, that His Spirit would go with them and abide in their midst. Therefore, they need not fear.

God has made a better covenant with us than He did with them, the New Covenant, enacted on better promises (Heb. 8:6). Jesus sealed that New Covenant with His own blood. He promised us the indwelling Holy Spirit to be with us forever (John 14:16). When we grow discouraged in our service for Him, we should remember His promise, that He would not leave us as orphans, but would come to us and that in the meanwhile, He has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to serve Him.

 

Housekeeping; questions, comments and prayer requests please send to

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

thank you especially to those that reach out and say thanks, or “like” or tell us you are part of our prayer partners, your encouragement means more than you can know.

 

Pray for those that have been hit hard by hurricane Harvey, I have some dear friends living in and about Houston and 50” of rain is not an easy thing to deal with. Please keep Joe and Randall in your prayers and countless others.

God bless and thanks

I received a phone call today from an old Marine pal of mine who spends a lot of time calling into talk radio shows as he is pretty much home bound and like me lives off the grid and hard to get to. So to pass the time he calls into these shows and very courteously disagrees with most of what they say.

What put a burr up his saddle today was the lady talk show host who claims she is Christian, has a Christian Tattoo artist on the show and if you came to the station they would have a “Christian Inking” discount and “film at 11” soiree.

Well this old Marine jumps into his handicapped equipped pickup and drives to the radio station with his tattered bible on the seat. Surprisingly the station manager takes him into the studio and the debate begins live and on the air.

Now I have to tell you this Marine was at Iwo and Guadalcanal, Tarawa, he’s fought with nothing but rocks and his helmet, he’s done Island clean up with a flamethrower. He’s spent a large part of his life fighting demons, nightmares and the bottle, and now with about 40 years sober and spending almost every waking moment reading his bible. He takes bible correspondence courses and is one smart cookie.

So I get roped into a radio conference call because he doesn’t want to surrender to a fast talking pseudo Christian radio talk show host. I say pseudo because her defense of tattoos is the Old Testament isn’t relevant as she’s a “New Covenant believer. And since Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament it’s no longer relevant to New Testament believers and is only considered ancient history good for its mythical stories.” Well I’m the guy that sincerely believes in not casting pearls to swine, so I tell my friend to leave and let’s meet up at a Jim’s Restaurant and give him moral support. And a good answer.

So part one, you have to have the whole bible to be a whole Christian. Can you get saved and be a Christian after hearing only John 3:16, certainly, but if you are going to develop into a complete, mature Christian, then it’s going to take the whole bible to grow you to completeness. Jesus and the Apostles quoted from the Old Testament, there was no New Testament while the Apostles walked the earth. Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not to do away with it.

Ok, part two, tattoos;

Houston pastor Chris Seay told the Associated Press last year, after asking his

followers to get inked for Lent, “there are definitely some Old Testament

passages that have something to say about (tattooing), but we don’t think they

have weight in this contemporary circumstance. If we thought the Scriptures were

prohibiting it, we wouldn’t be doing it.”

Leviticus 19:28 ” Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor

print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”

These pagan practices were most likely associated with Egyptian idolatry and

were therefore to be avoided. The practice of making deep gashes on the face

and arms or legs, in times of grief, was universal among pagans.

Mutilation of the body created by God was incompatible with holiness, for the

holy God is perfect life.

Holiness requires Israel not to act like the pagans in any areas of life.

Getting back to Pastor Seay; “we don’t think (the scripture) has relevance or

weight in our modern times.”

And that my friends is what is wrong with the modern church today, that popular

culture is more important than the Holy Word of God. Because 1/3 of young

Americans have tattoos we should deem it ok, and ignore what the Word of God

says.

Is it a sin, I personally wouldn’t go there, we should not preach condemnation.

But if someone came in for counseling and asked me if it was ok to get their first

tattoo I would say no.

One of the things I told my kids a lot was; “I’m not here to be your best friend, I’m

Here to be your father not win a popularity contest.” That hasn’t changed, popular is not what I’m going for.

I think pastors that want to be cool, hip and drive Harleys and ignore what

Scriptures teach in EVERY area are IDIOTS and HYPOCRITES. (I’m kidding about the

Harley, (almost, I drive a Gold Wing).

You cannot choose what parts of scripture to follow or ignore. It is all or nothing.

God bless.

Sorry if I’m not cool enough for you. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t change a thing. And to all my “inked” brothers and sister you are loved by God and myself. Just don’t expect me to give you my approval, I will also give you respect and love but will ask you to not give counsel to other church members to violate what the bible teaches.

The basic history of tattoos is that it is to give unchanging stability to a person’s life, i.e. that the tattoos are static, everything else in the world and even my body may change, but the tattoo is constant. Well I can trump that with a bigger, better constant. God; never changing, also constant and the word of God, inspired, inerrant, and infallible. If Christians are seeking a constant in their life other than that, they are in rebellion.

So let’s agree to disagree, because this is on my long list of things that don’t affect salvation.

Blessing and regards from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

the woof and the warp

August 15, 2017

There’s an old phrase, if you are under 60 or not a fan of Shakespeare, you may not recognize it; or you don’t read the King James Version of the Bible, Leviticus 13:48,49 “the warp and the woof”. In weaving, the weft (sometimes woof) is the thread or yarn which is drawn through, inserted over-and-under, the lengthwise warp yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom to create cloth. Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while weft is the transverse thread.

It is a phrase that is used to mean ‘inseparable’.

The Cross and The Holy Spirit are the warp and the woof of our salvation, you must have both.

  “But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

  The Lord Jesus carried out the work of the Cross as to our eternal position. The Holy Spirit carries out the work of the Cross as to our present condition. “He will take the things that are Mine and will transmit them to you” (John 16:15, Amp.).

  “We cannot separate the Cross from the Holy Spirit. We can have no Easter and no Pentecost until we have first had a Good Friday. Through the Cross alone we are prepared for life in the fullness of God; only he who is crucified with Christ can be a vessel unto honor. Our ‘old man’ must be crucified with Christ, and in His

resurrection

we find the roots of our new life. Whosoever loses his life, shall find it. We must learn the lesson of the Cross, as condemned and rejected ones, who have been crucified with Christ.

Then the door will be open for a life of power and blessing. All that belongs to death must be turned over to the death of the Cross, even as the body is laid away in the

earth,

because it belongs to the earth. The Holy Spirit, the Eternal Spirit, is unchangeable. He brought Christ our Head to the Cross, and us His children with Him. For this work in us is twofold. On the one hand, it leads us to death; and on the other hand, to that life which God has placed within us and which leads from glory to glory.

  “And all of us, with faces uncovered, because we continue to reflect like mirrors the splendor of the Lord, are being transformed into likeness to Him, from one degree of splendor to another, since it comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Pray for a dear friend of mine that has maybe a day left to live, he may even pass this night. As I made arrangements for his funeral it was hard to imagine him gone, he was a funny little guy. The sad part is that when we talked about Jesus he always said not to worry about that it was taken care of. He was always visibly moved when we talked about it, but would never talk about ‘his salvation’. And now we are at the place where it may be

to

late.

My point is evangelism must be the woof and warp of our lives.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

KNOW TO GROW

August 13, 2017

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KNOW TO GROW

  “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

  The heartbreaking knowledge of self-brings a life-giving compensation, which is knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The needs generated by the realization of the sin of self-produce the necessary motivation and hunger which cause us to focus upon the Lord Jesus and become conformed to His image. “And we all, while with face unveiled we behold in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are ourselves transformed continually into the same likeness” (2 Cor. 3:18).

 Many a new believer has obtained relief in his conscience from his sins, because of faith in the Blood of Jesus Christ; that is, he does not see further than Romans 3. He has faith in the work of Christ, but has not yet come in faith to Christ. He is like the woman who touched the hem of His garment, assured of His work but not yet acquainted with Himself.

 It is one thing to believe on the Lord Jesus, to be born again, to be saved. That is a wondrous thing as a beginning or start, but it alone will not take you right through all you must meet, to grow into him; and if you are really in the Lord’s hands He will see to it that by virtue of need you are drawn into knowing more and more of His Son. It is the normal course of a true, Holy Spirit-governed Christian life that, in order to get through, an increase of Christ, a growing discovery of Christ, is necessary.

  “That I may know Him” (Phil. 3:10).

After your salvation, God has but one plan for your life, become like His Son, to grow into the image of Christ. Good news, it will happen, the other news, (not bad) it’s going to hurt. No one seems to preach much on the growing pains of being a Christian. The idea of us becoming more Christ like is the same idea of a hammer striking a die and the image being cut into the metal of the coin itself.

God is the hammer, Christ is the die, you got it, you’re the thing being struck.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com